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February 19, 2020

Renting: pre-tenancy inventory check

  Compiled by myLIFE team myHOME December 9, 2019 75

Carrying out an inventory check on a property is an important step for both the landlord and the tenant. This detailed property inspection helps each party to protect their interests. The pre-tenancy inventory is the reference document used to establish liability in the event of any future disputes, and it is a requirement whenever a rental deposit is requested. As such, it should be drafted with the utmost care.

The purpose of an inventory check is to protect both the tenant’s and the landlord’s interests in the event of a dispute. Tenants generally supply a rental deposit when they move in, which they will only recover in full if the property is returned in the condition described in the pre-tenancy inventory. For the landlord, carrying out a pre-tenancy inventory check prevents them from having to pay to repair property damage caused by the tenant.

What the law says

The official website Guichet.lu says the following about the pre-tenancy inventory check: “The inventory is a document used to describe the condition of an item of property. Even though inventories may be used for the rental of any type of property (e.g. equipment, vehicle, etc.), they are mostly used in the context of residential lease agreements.”

An inventory check is systematically carried out at the end of the tenancy, but we would highly recommend that you complete one at the beginning of the tenancy too. If the inventory check is not completed by the time you move into the property, Article 173 of the Luxembourg Civil Code stipulates that the property is deemed to have been received in a good condition by the tenant, who is then required to return it in the same condition at the end of the lease. From the landlord’s perspective, if no inventory check has been completed, the rental deposit cannot be used to pay for repairing damage to the property caused by the tenant.

The law stipulates that a written inventory must be produced before the start of the tenancy whenever the tenancy agreement provides for a rental deposit.

The law also stipulates that a written inventory must be produced before the start of the tenancy whenever the tenancy agreement provides for a rental deposit. As this is almost always the case in reality, carrying out a pre-tenancy inventory check is standard practice in Luxembourg. Of course, the inventory must be drawn up jointly, and must be dated and signed.

What form does it take?

Generally, the pre-tenancy (and end of tenancy) inventory takes the form of a jointly written report, issued in two copies: one for the tenant, one for the landlord. Additional copies may be provided if the tenant and/or landlord are represented by third parties.

Each party dates and signs the inventory beneath the description of the property, thereby acknowledging and approving the contents of the document. Remember that you are entitled to disagree with the description set out in the inventory. If this is the case, don’t sign it!

Not sure of the procedure to follow? To make your life easier, you can download an inventory template. Don’t simply tick the boxes – make sure you always add the most precise comment possible when something isn’t in perfect condition.

When?

As the name suggests, this procedure takes place just before you “take possession” of the property (i.e. the date from which you are entitled to move in). When you leave the property, you’ll draw up a check-out (end of tenancy) inventory, if possible using the same document template, to make the comparison easier. The aim is, of course, to ensure that the check-out inventory is the same as the pre-tenancy inventory: in other words, that the property has no signs of damage other than those resulting from normal wear and tear in relation to the use of the property. This will enable you to recover your entire rental deposit.

If, a few days after the inventory is completed, you notice issues that were not recorded in the pre-tenancy inventory, you can inform your landlord (preferably by registered letter). However, they are entitled not to recognise this damage, and to refer solely to the initial inventory signed by you.

How?

The best way to prove whether there has been damage is to establish the most precise record of the property possible when the tenant moves in. This record can then be used as a point of comparison at the end of the tenancy to determine the extent of any damage.

To that end, the landlord and the tenant inspect the apartment and note down any relevant points in the report. These could include loose floorboards, a wall with flaking paint, limescale on taps, etc.

Don’t just look at aspects of the property from afar: test how well they work.

Don’t just look at aspects of the property from afar: test how well they work. For example, open the windows to check the condition of the handles, turn the taps on, flush the toilet, turn on the lights, etc. Pay attention to every detail – take your time and make sure you don’t miss anything. As a tenant, you can prepare for the inventory check at your future apartment by listing the various elements that will need to be checked on the spot.

It’s not always easy to precisely describe flaking paint. Thankfully, modern technology has come to the rescue. Use your smartphone’s camera or video function to document the condition of the property when you move in. Take photos of anything that might be worth pointing out. A picture can be worth a thousand words. Remember to include all of these elements in the inventory, and have them signed, too.

Designed to protect the financial interests of both the landlord and the tenant, the pre-tenancy inventory makes it possible to settle any end-of-tenancy disputes. It is therefore important that you pay particular attention to this report, and that you fill it out carefully and accurately. Aside from being a formal requirement, this procedure is also an opportunity for the tenant and the landlord to get to know each other better, and to lay the foundation for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.